Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just 12 convictions despite allegations against 325 Brothers

Just 12 Christian Brothers have been convicted of child sex abuse despite allegations being made against 325 members of the order, a safeguarding audit has found.

The audit of the Christian Brothers shows that since 1975, 870 allegations of abuse have been made against 325 brothers.

All allegations have been reported to gardaí and the HSE, but just 50 of the brothers involved are still alive. One brother who is alleged to have carried out abuse is still in ministry; while 49 have retired; another 49 are out of ministry; and 145 have died. Just 12 brothers have been convicted.

According to the report: “The files read by the reviewers left them in no doubt that a great number of children were seriously abused by Brothers.”

It also said: “The number of convictions by the courts, compared to the numbers accused of child abuse, is significantly small.”

The Ryan Report had already uncovered the massive scale of abuse carried out by Christian Brothers but the audit published yesterday said that order had acknowledged the “inadequacy of their historical response” and had improved child protection structures throughout its ministries.

Of the 50 members against whom allegations have been made the audit report said it was “safer for children if those accused remain as part of a community and safety and support plans can be put in place”.

But Maeve Lewis, of One in Four, said the low rate of convictions for sex offences among dioceses and religious matched that in society and was “a huge challenge” for everyone.

The report also said the Brothers now report allegations promptly to the authorities and dealt closely with the gardaí and the HSE.

It found allegations notified to the Christian Brothers most often came through the alleged victim’s legal representative. It also found some confusion over the way files of complaints were maintained.

“It is unclear from some of the files when the Brother was removed from ministry; the process that led to the action; and the procedures in place regarding monitoring and review following the individual’s removal.”

There were also no records of preliminary investigations on files, often in cases of no criminal prosecution, meaning reviewers felt the alleged perpetrator was often “in a limbo situation”.

It also urged the Christian Brothers to consider reviewing their response to victims, in consultation with victims or victim groups, and develop a strategy which sets out the support options for complainants.

In a statement the Christian Brothers’ Province Leadership Team said: “We want to learn from the mistakes of the past and to create a safe environment for all children and young adults. By developing robust child protection measures and inviting the national board to independently assess these, we aim to continuously enhance child protection safeguards so that the mistakes of the past may never be repeated.

“The congregation accepts in full the national board’s recommendations on how to further enhance safeguarding measures. Half of the board’s recommendations have already been implemented or are nearing completion and work on the remaining elements is underway.”

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